Industry Insight, My Tools
As a New Yorker, your excitement and commitment to our developing landscape is crucial to the city’s growth and progress. In Industry Insight, I hope to shed some light on lessons learned while greening our urban landscape as Brooklyn Grange’s Director of Design/Build. My hope in doing so is to help all urbanites get a jump start on their gardens, big or small.
My day to day takes me to various parts of the city, typically equipped with a toolbag, and anything else I can manage to lug, drive, or bike. I have included below a list of tried and true tools that I typically bring along for the ride. They have been lumped into two categories: “On my person” meaning crucial, and “In my toolbag” meaning valued. There are certainly times when I lose these items in the abyss that is our company vehicle, or I lend them to a crew member, never to be seen again. In those instances, these tools are sorely missed. I highly recommend them to any city dweller or gardener.
I. On my person
- Leatherman – If I have nothing else with me, at least I have my Leatherman…or rather a Leatherman. I’m fairly rough with this tool, and as such have broken a few (many) blades, gunked up the pliers with adhesive, or handed them off to co workers. There’s plenty of tools that I don’t use within the repertoire (the ruler and scissors are fairly impractical), but it is truly the multi tool of dreams. I typically opt for the Leatherman Wingman as it’s readily available and more economical.
- All Purpose Blade – Utility is key when you’re out on the field. Though I’ve lost many a pocket knife in rooftop meadows across the city, the leather sheath on this blade allows it to be permanently affixed to my belt. The blade is easy to fold out, lock, use, and stash. And it’s beautifully crafted to boot.
- Pruners – I’m a patron of the Felco 2 Classic Bypass pruners, but I’m a fairly new brand loyalist so I imagine there’s a whole world of Felco’s that’s currently beyond me. Having never used a pair until recently, I wasn’t truly sold on the high priced tool. Now, I can’t imagine using anything else. Most of my tools come and go, and I don’t much mind. These I’m fairly militant with. They don’t touch plastic, they get oiled seasonally, and I don’t lend them to anyone. I highly recommend the Garrett Wade leather sheath for easy access and to keep your rear pant pockets free of holes.
II. In my tool bag
- The tool bag – This bag is perfect for carrying (i.e. hauling) all of my tools from site to site. Unlike most standard tool bags, it’s not a pocket less abyss where necessary tools mix with screws, dirt, and waste! I store anything small in the outside pocket, heavily used tools get strapped in the interior, and zip ties, bungees, etc. get sorted appropriately for the first time ever.
- Mini Hoe + All Purpose Shovel – I can’t say enough how perfect these tools are for urban gardeners. Their compact size allows them to be transported easily, but that doesn’t mean they won’t put in the work. I have broken countless shovels in the field, but this steel shovel is indestructible. And if you’re not sure why a hoe is crucial, then you haven’t truly faced off with weeds. Both of these tools have faced tree pit construction fill and won.
- Hose washers + plumber’s tape – There’s nothing quite as frustrating as spotting a leaky hose connection and not being able to do a thing about it. Hose washers and plumbers tape are proactive and light tools to have on hand.
- Hori hori – The hori hori tool was in fact introduced to me by Garrett Wade! It’s hard for me to imagine, but last year I would have said “Hori what?”. Now it’s the only real gardening tool I carry around. It does the job of a trowel, saw, and blade and works wonders in urban soils we are at times faced with (i.e. intensely compacted soil or construction fill).
- Plumber’s key – A tool I was completely unfamiliar with until I entered into this field, but I’ve come to realize that many hose spigots in the city can only be opened with this key. The real value of this tool may be due to the fact that I am, more often than not, unequipped with it. As such the plumber’s key now has a very specific home in that little front pocket of my tool bag.
- Bungee and zip ties – I have been caught without these items too many times to make the mistake again. I always keep these items bundled up in my bag and I’ve never been sorry about it.
- If I’m wise or reminded I’ll also carry some gloves, a water bottle, and a solar powered charger.